Position lacking players
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 11:18 p.m.
Florida's strong recruiting push for a top player in Texas came up just short Wednesday, when linebacker Robert Killebrew announced at his school he'll sign with Texas on Feb. 5.
Still in the running
Killebrew picked Texas over Florida in what he called the toughest decision of his life.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do," the outside linebacker from Klein, Texas said. "It was so close between Florida and Texas and I had difficult time deciding. But now that I've made my decision, I feel really good about it. Texas is the right place for me."
Killebrew said he based his decision on academics.
"A degree at the University of Texas carries more prestige than any of the other schools that were recruiting me," he said. "The support staff is second to none. Florida's academics also are excellent and that's why I was so high on Florida. Florida and Texas have great academics.
"I eliminated Oklahoma (which had been considered an early favorite) because their academic program doesn't even compare to those at Florida and Texas."
Killebrew visited UF this past weekend and made the trip with his parents. "I really wanted to visit Florida and I'm glad I did. But it made it very tough on me when it came down to making my decision," he said.
UF remains in contention for two other players from Texas - Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, a defensive tackle from Duncanville, and Jarvis Moss, a defensive end from Denton.
Lawson-Kennedy, who also is considering Miami, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Arkansas, is scheduled to visit Gainesville this weekend. Moss has yet to finalize a UF visit. He has listed Miami and Texas as his favorites.
With Killebrew electing to go elsewhere, the Gators now have only a few top linebacker prospects remaining on their board - and linebacker is a huge recruiting need for UF.
Of the top five linebacker prospects still on the board, two - Tampa Wharton's Larry Edwards and Miami Killian's Stephen Tulloch - have orally committed to other schools but will still visit Florida. Edwards committed to North Carolina earlier this week and Tulloch is a North Carolina State commitment.
A third top prospect - Tallahassee North Florida Christian's Ernie Sims - has expressed a desire to play running back in college and UF appears to be a distant third behind Florida State and Georgia. His clear leader is FSU, where his father played football for the Seminoles and his mother ran track.
The only other top linebackers on the board are Earl Everett from Bushnell South Sumter and Ryan Brown from Moncks Corners, S.C. Everett also is considering Miami, Florida State and Nebraska, while Brown still has South Carolina, Ohio State and North Carolina on his list. The Cornhuskers are making a late run at Everett by telling him he'll have a chance to play quarterback at Nebraska.
The Gators, who lose two of their three starting linebackers (Mike Nattiel and Bam Hardmon), hope to sign four or five linebackers, but with signing day now less than three weeks away, UF has a commitment from only one - Howard Lingard from Oviedo. Middle linebacker Channing Crowder, who signed with UF a year ago but did not enroll until this spring, will sign with UF on Feb. 5, but will count against last year's recruiting class. Crowder and Taurean Charles were Florida's only linebacker signees in 2002, although Brian Crum has since been moved to linebacker.
You can reach Robbie Andreu by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 374-5022.
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